Ten years after Buccellati won the Ormonde Stakes at Chester, Andrew Balding won the Group 3 event for a second time after Morando (3/1) trounced the St Leger winner Kew Gardens by eight lengths. The six year old dead heated in the Group 3 St Simon Stakes at Newbury on his final run last season and had no problem with this longer trip. Silvestre De Sousa tracked the early pace and once taking over on the home turn, the former Roger Varian trained gelding strolled clear. The head of Kingsclere suggested in Ahead On The Flat that soft ground is the key to Morando and he revelled in the testing conditions at the Roodeye. The ground will dictate his programme for the remainder of the season. The runner-up is bound to strip fitter for the run, plus he was carrying his Group 1 penalty. Better ground will also aid cause later this year.
Sam Cooke (9/4) looked a well treated horse when winning by two and a half lengths on his handicap debut over twelve furlongs. Ralph Beckett's charge, who was gelded during the winter (he was a rig), was given an opening mark of 85 having won over a mile at York last Autumn. Shuffled back early on, the son of Pour Moi made smooth headway before being unleashed with two furlongs to run. Harry Bentley's mount pulled away and looks a useful middle distance prospect. One would imagine the King George V Handicap at Royal Ascot could be his first major target, although fast ground is an unknown. Following a slow start, the Beckett stable have hit form in recent weeks - 9 winners in the last 14 days at a strike-rate of 31%. In other news from the Hampshire stable, Top 40 entries Dancing Vega (gone to race in US) and Nivaldo (sadly died on the home gallops) won't be contributing this year.
While Aidan O'Brien won the Dee Stakes for the eighth time in fifteen years thanks to Circus Maximus, the horse to take from the Listed ten furlongs contest is surely the third Fox Chairman. The Kingman colt, who cost 450,000gns, was an impressive winner on his racecourse debut at Newbury last month but this represented a step up in trip and class. Looking green and uncomfortable on the track, Silvestre De Sousa's mount met trouble in running before the home bend which allowed the Ballydoyle pair (Circus Maximus and Mohawk to get first run. Once in the clear, Fox Chairman stayed on well and was only beaten three and a quarter lengths. Given a more conventional track, he would have finished considerably closer. Andrew Balding indicated afterwards that Royal Ascot is likely to be on his agenda with either the Hampton Court Stakes (1m 2f) or King Edward VII Stakes (1m 4f) as his chosen target. He is a smart colt and the experience he gained on Thursday won't be lost on him.
STOP PRESS: Daring Venture (5/4) and Fox Premier (7/2) were two more winners for Ahead On The Flat at Chelmsford on Thursday evening.
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